Local models of two-temperature accretion disc coronae - II. Ion thermal conduction and the absence of disc evaporation

Christopher J. Bambic, Eliot Quataert, Matthew W. Kunz, Yan Fei Jiang

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1 Scopus citations


We use local stratified shearing-box simulations with magnetic field-aligned thermal conduction to study an idealized model of the coupling between a cold, radiatively efficient accretion disc, and an overlying, hot, two-temperature corona. Evaporation of a cold disc by conduction from the hot corona has been proposed as a means of mediating the soft-to-hard state transitions observed in X-ray binary systems. We model the coronal plasma in our local disc patch as an MHD fluid subject to both free-streaming ion conduction and a parametrized cooling function that captures the collisional transfer of energy from hot ions to colder, rapidly cooling leptons. In all of our models, independent of the initial net vertical magnetic flux (NF) threading the disc, we find no evidence of disc evaporation. The ion heat flux into the disc is radiated away before conduction can heat the disc's surface layers. When an initial NF is present, steady-state temperature, density, and outflow velocities in our model coronae are unaffected by conduction. Instead of facilitating disc evaporation, thermal conduction is more likely to feed the disc with plasma condensing out of the corona, particularly in flows without NF. Our work indicates that uncertainties in the amount of NF threading the disc hold far greater influence over whether or not the disc will evaporate into a radiatively inefficient accretion flow compared to thermal conduction. We speculate that a change in net flux mediates disc truncation/evaporation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1812-1828
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • MHD
  • accretion, accretion discs
  • conduction
  • plasmas


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